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total sl-prokeys hits since April, 2003

On Thursday, August 21, 2003, at 2:45pm, my wife of 34 years, Rebecca, died in my arms in an emergency room.

The last words we spoke were in perfect synchronization: "I love you with all my heart."


Scamp Journal

    As of about 5 pm today, Scamp no longer lives with us.  He was released, so he could either survive or die.  Why?

    WHY is the Florida Wildlife Commission.

    Scamp was brought here by Dale, a Florida licensed trapper.  The trapper, according to FWC, has no right to dispose of the fox, which the state considers to be a "protected species".  The fox is the "property" of the state of Florida, according to FWC.  He is allowed to either destroy (kill) it, relocate it, or put it in a rehabilitation facility.  That means Dale violated a State law by giving me the fox.  Of course, neither of us knew this at the time.  Trying to obey the rules, I immediately started research, and discovered a free permit is available to keep a grey fox.  I applied for a permit to keep Scamp lawfully.  That's where the big mistake happened. 

    I  violated a Florida State law because I didn't have a permit in my hand before Scamp came onto my property.  I violated the law because I received a protected species but I didn't BUY him.  But wait - this gets more interesting.

    According to FWC, SOME PET DEALERS are allowed to SELL grey foxes.  These are not wild foxes, but foxes bred in captivity for the purpose of SALE.  Is this picture getting clearer?

    The way that I see this, then, is that if money changes hands in a way that the state likes, you can have your fox.  But if you SAVE a fox, or FIND a fox, you're breaking a law.  The Lieutenant was very clear:  if I found a baby fox on the side of the road, brought him home, kept and fed him, that's not only a crime in this state, but I also COULD NOT receive a permit to keep him, if I applied for a permit.  As explained above, the state claims they "own" the fox.  Of course, I would be welcome to spend hundreds (or thousands) on the medical care of the fox before the state advised me I couldn't keep it.  So I think what one could learn from this is to skip the part where we apply for the permit.  Save the baby fox, raise him as you would any pet that you love, and leave the state completely out of it.

    I asked the FWC Lieutenant many, many questions in hopes of resolving this problem AND obtaining a permit to keep Scamp.  While he was very nice and very helpful, he also had no concern for either the fox's welfare or anyone's emotions or feelings.  The letter of the law is interpreted by him to state that a private person cannot obtain a fox through any other means except to buy it.  And apparently, all the FWC cares about is the letter of the lawThis raises a question:  if I buy a fox from a breeding farm, then I am buying a fox born and raised in captivity, from (at least partially) domesticated parentage, bred by people for the sole purpose of pet sales.  In this case, how could the state consider it to be "wildlife"?  It's not wild.  It never was wild.  Why require a permit?  It's more like a "petlife" - similar to birds or snakes bred in captivity, for example, cockatiels or boa constrictors.

    So then .... Scamp lived here happily for about 5 weeks.  In that time, he came to love us and trust us.  And we, him.  He caused no problems here, and he used kitty litter consistently.  Because he didn't make any mess, there was never a need to cage or confine him.  He had free run of the office and workshop - about 850 square feet.  We had him walking on a leash very nicely, and we CARED for him as we would a baby puppy.  He got more to eat than you could imagine, and he was thriving.  Now he's outside.  We removed his collar, put some water and food out for him, and released him.  He hasn't gone too far yet, he showed up on the porch last night for supper, and walked into the shop of his own choice.  This morning he was here again, and right now, he's somewhere in the back, under the shop, probably.  He's been over and through the neighbor's fence, about 25' up the oak trees, and also wandered into the street a couple of times.  I'll offer him food again tonight, and maybe he will - or maybe he won't - show up for supper.  If you think this is emotional stress, you're absolutely right.  But what the hell?  The FWC is happy.

    It should be obvious from this story that I have very little interest in keeping foxes in general - it is THIS specific fox that I feel attached to.  I have already put in hundreds of hours gaining his trust and working with him carefully, so he could learn to live in our environment.  His progress has been remarkable.  It should also be obvious that I'm very emotional about this permit problem, especially since I've tried my best to do things by the rules.  Nothing seems to be acceptable to the state.  After talking to six different FWC people, I'm no closer to resolving this issue than before I started.  Strangely enough, a FWC Lieutenant was here on June 4, to investigate my application for a permit.  He didn't want to take Scamp away, nor did he even ask to see him!

    And Finally ...

    As long as we're living by the letter of the law, I don't need a permit to keep Scamp.  I'm not "keeping" him, and I'm not in possession of him.  He's wild, he's not in captivity.  Unlike my dogs, he's not my personal property.  He's not under my physical control at all, since he's not caged, confined, collared, or restrained.  He's not restricted, and he's free to go wherever he wants, anytime he wants.  He finds his own food and water, and sometimes he finds the food and water which I put out for him.  He can choose to stay nearby, or he can choose to wander away.  From this viewpoint, all I can do is hope that he doesn't wander into any trouble.  This area has many loose dogs, owls, hawks, and plenty of people.  People drive cars, and cars run over animals. 

    The story of Scamp may be over.
    Sad, sad news from Florida.

10/12 - Day 155:  Our grey fox, Scamp, has not returned for over 2 days.  The last time he was here was Wednesday, October 10, at about 9:00pm.  As usual, on Wednesday, he had snacks, we played with him, brushed him, he played with Tzar the puppy, and he seemed just fine.  He came in the office and curled up in "his" chair, to watch TV with us and Tzar.  He hopped up on me on the sofa, laid on my chest, and got his belly scratched.  Very typical "evening" behavior, nothing unusual.  After an hour or two in the office, we let Scamp and Tzar outside, they played in the yard and driveway.  Scamp headed over towards the fence, and probably went searching for food, as he always does.  We went into the house with Tzar, and that's the last time we've seen Scamp. 

Until now, Scamp's schedule has been very predictable.  Since he's been living outdoors (June 15), he has never failed to show up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Sometimes he's around the deck area all day long.  We have been feeding him less food, encouraging him to hunt more, but the snacks haven't changed.  He's always shown up at least 3 times a day.  We know something's wrong.

We've been terribly worried about him.  We can't help but think that a dog, or car, or some other disaster has prevented him from returning.  We'd like to believe he met a vixen and is "moving", but that's not quite as logical in these circumstances.  I would think he'd stay away more gradually if that were so. 

This may be the worst part of being emotionally involved with an "outdoor" fox.  It might be easier to know he was killed by a car, than to worry, worry, worry, and search the neighborhood at all hours.  We probably look ridiculous, wandering all around, rattling his snack cup and calling for him.  We've searched and searched, but so far, no results.


10/23 - Still no sign of Scamp.

About 1 year later:  Our recently-divorced neighbor came here to tell us her ex-husband shot and killed Scamp. 

Then he skinned him, and hung the skin on the shed behind their house.  It is illegal for me to find the ex-husband and blow his brains out with a .45 or a 12 gauge riot gun. 

right this way to Scamp's




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